The exhibition is a response to the rising dominance of the use of the figure in contemporary art, presenting three new wave artists who work with the figure in profoundly contrasting ways.
Jelena Bulajić is concerned with the ageing human face. Her unrelenting gaze is realized in small scale and monumental paintings made from mixed materials. Her work in this exhibition consists of a series of watercolour and graphite pieces. Bulajić begins with photographs of mature men or women who are selected instinctively by chance encounter:
“I use photographs as source material. The undiscriminating, mechanical gaze of the camera is of great importance to me, as it enables me to observe my subjects forensically. In recreating the human face through drawing and painting, I attempt to record the map of a face as a second skin sitting upon paper or canvas.”
Bulajić’s portraits are unparalleled technical accomplishments that might combine a unique use of materials including acrylic, emulsion, watercolour, pencil, ground limestone, marble dust and graphite powder. Taken at first sight as impeccable photorealist paintings, upon closer inspection Bulajić’s surfaces dissolve into highly complex abstract surfaces.
Dale Lewis’ monumental ensemble paintings are a direct response to his everyday life in the city of London. Painted with urgency, we are presented with populated interior or street views that investigate multiple topics including Britishness, gay culture, transformation, transvestism, binge drinking, violence, addiction and the 9-5. Drawing on real life experience, Lewis’ absorbing paintings reveal a unique insight into counter culture and the banal, thereby raising questions about street and night life; personal politics; inclusion and exclusion.
Lewis’s paintings are made after little or no physical preparation, but rather a psychological process that involves a sequential re-imagining of the painting after witnessing a particular event or moment. In wanting to avoid traditional genres, Lewis’ paintings of “the underpainted” are raw, urgent and fluid, and his use of materials and finish is non-hierarchical: “I want the paintings to look like they have just been peeled from the street”.
Claire Partington makes multi-layered ceramic figures. Embracing historic and contemporary visual tropes, Partington provides multiple reference points that can be read in numerous ways, allowing the viewer to bring their own interpretation to the work:
“The figures are a result of my interest in misinterpretation, reimagining, and part-truths that occur not only in folk tales and history, but also in art history. The intention of the sitter and artist to convey something quite specific can become blurred over time and reinterpreted or re-assimilated by our contemporary eyes.”
Partington’s ceramics are bravura displays of complex techniques. Her figures might consist of slab building, coiling, sprigging; and the use of glazes, transfers and metallic lustres. The resulting sculptures are undoubtedly objects of beauty, but which convey elements of humour and irony.
Please contact CHARLIE SMITH LONDON for images and further information
New London Figurative
Jelena Bulajić was born in Vrbas, Serbia in 1980. She completed her MA Fine Art with a Distinction from City & Guilds of London Art School in 2013 after reading BA Visual Arts at the Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad, Serbia from 2008-2012. Bulajić has won numerous prizes and awards including the Niš Art Foundation Award, Niš, Serbia; Russian Portrait Competition, School of Fine Arts, Obninsk, Russia; and VIII Biennial of Portrait, Cultural Center of Šabac, Šabac, Serbia. She has exhibited internationally and has work placed in prominent private collections including the Saatchi Gallery. Bulajić will feature prominently in the forthcoming exhibition ‘Champagne Life’ at the Saatchi Gallery, London in early 2016.
Dale Lewis was born in the United Kingdom in 1980. He completed his MA Fine Art at University of Brighton, East Sussex in 2006 after reading BA (Hons) Fine Art at London Guildhall University, London 2000-2002. Lewis recently completed the Turps Banana Painting Programme at Turps Art School, London in 2015 and was awarded the 2015-2016 Jerwood Painting Fellowship by Jerwood Space, London. Lewis has exhibited in the United Kingdom, United States and Spain, and is placed in prominent UK collections including the Saatchi Gallery, London.
Claire Partington completed her BA (Hons) Fine Art Sculpture at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, London in 1995. Partington has exhibited recently in large scale international exhibitions at Halle Saint Pierre, Paris; Fondation d'entreprise Bernardaud, Limoges; and 8 Kasteel d'Ursel, Belgium. Her work is placed in private and public collections globally including The Reydan Weiss Collection, Munich; Charles Saumarez Smith, London; and C21 Museum, Louisville.